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Reinforcement Learning from Partial Observation: Linear Function Approximation with Provable Sample Efficiency

Qi Cai · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

Hall E #811

Keywords: [ RL: Online ] [ RL: Total Cost/Reward ] [ RL: Semi Markov ] [ RL: Policy Search ] [ RL: Function Approximation ] [ Reinforcement Learning ]

Abstract: We study reinforcement learning for partially observed Markov decision processes (POMDPs) with infinite observation and state spaces, which remains less investigated theoretically. To this end, we make the first attempt at bridging partial observability and function approximation for a class of POMDPs with a linear structure. In detail, we propose a reinforcement learning algorithm (Optimistic Exploration via Adversarial Integral Equation or OP-TENET) that attains an $\epsilon$-optimal policy within $O(1/\epsilon^2)$ episodes. In particular, the sample complexity scales polynomially in the intrinsic dimension of the linear structure and is independent of the size of the observation and state spaces. The sample efficiency of OP-TENET is enabled by a sequence of ingredients: (i) a Bellman operator with finite memory, which represents the value function in a recursive manner, (ii) the identification and estimation of such an operator via an adversarial integral equation, which features a smoothed discriminator tailored to the linear structure, and (iii) the exploration of the observation and state spaces via optimism, which is based on quantifying the uncertainty in the adversarial integral equation.

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